Keto foods are out to prove that being on a diet doesn’t mean you’re restricted to green juices, bland chicken breasts, and blanched broccoli. Rather, you have every permission to indulge in cheese, bacon, and peanut butter and lose weight at the same time. Sound too good to be true? Not according to the ketogenic diet.
A survey of registered dieticians found that the keto diet is the most popular diet in the U.S. Devotees, including famous names such as Halle Berry and Gwyneth Paltrow, swear by the benefits of eating keto foods: fat loss, diabetes management, and increased energy levels. But on the other hand, in a ranking of the best and worst diets by the U.S. News & World Report, the keto diet was ranked as one of the lowest out of 39 diets. Out of 5 stars, diet experts, nutritionists, and specialists in diabetes and heart diseases gave it a rating of 1.9.
But before we get into the pros and cons of eating keto foods, let’s understand what the keto diet is, how it works, and whether it’s worth a try.
The general idea behind this high-fat, low-carb diet is that eating more fat helps you burn fat quicker. Typically, keto foods, which are high in fats, should make up at least 70 to 80% of your total calorie intake, while the remaining 20% and 10% can be split between protein and carbs respectively. This means you can heartily devour full-fat versions of your favorite foods and include salmon, meat, eggs, butter, cheese, and nuts into your diet.
By eating high-fat foods and fewer carbs, your body will enter a stage of ketosis. When you’re in the ketogenic state, your body will use fat for energy instead of carbohydrates, which is believed to aid fat loss.
However, to enter this stage, you will have to limit your carb intake to around 20 to 40 grams, which calls for extreme restriction. For reference, two medium bananas have 54 grams of carbs. So, following the keto diet doesn’t just mean avoiding bread, rice, and potatoes. You also have to opt for non-starchy fruits and vegetables and be on the lookout for hidden carbs that are present in foods, such as condiments, yogurt, milk, and balsamic oil.
Along the same vein, you’ll also need to moderate your protein intake. Depending on your body weight, consuming around 65 to 100 grams of protein can help you enter ketosis. Exceeding that amount could lower the ketones in the blood and slow down the ketosis process.
Here are some keto foods you can have while you’re following the diet:
Your metabolism starts to work differently when you eat keto foods, which means you’re likely to notice several benefits almost immediately. Here are a few of them:
One of the main reasons why keto foods and the diet itself became so popular is because it helps you lose weight. Since your carb intake is limited, you’re likely to notice quick results, especially in the first few weeks. There’s even some evidence to suggest that when you enter a state of ketosis, your appetite reduces and you have fewer cravings.
But as with any diet, it’s important to note that your calorie intake factors into how much weight you lose. Regardless of whether you’re following the paleo, vegan, or keto diets, weight loss is unlikely if you’re eating upwards of 3,000 calories a day.
Since keto foods are high in fat, they’re also higher in calories. For instance, one avocado weighing 200 grams, which is a healthy source of fat, clocks in at almost 300 calories. By contrast, 200 grams of broccoli is only 68 calories. For weight management or to see results, you will need to be in a calorie deficit. However, to ensure you see sustainable results and don’t undereat, consider consulting a nutritionist for professional advice before you start any new diet.
You know that feeling after every Thanksgiving dinner when you’ve eaten your weight in mac and cheese, mashed potato, turkey, and pumpkin pie? You’re stuffed, but your energy levels also take a nosedive. The same thing happens after you eat any carb-heavy meal, whether that’s a bowl of fettuccine alfredo or even a healthy rice bowl with salmon. But that’s not the case with the keto diet.
Your brain, which is almost 60% fat, relies on fatty acids to perform the necessary functions. When you start incorporating keto foods that have fatty acids, such as salmon or avocados, your brain is able to burn ketones, which may improve brain function and give you the boost of energy you need for day-to-day activities.
The main reason why keto foods have anti-inflammatory properties is that the body utilizes fat for energy instead of sugar, which is inflammatory.
Excess sugar in the body can spike insulin levels, especially if your diet includes foods with added sugar or refined carbohydrates. One of the main benefits of a keto diet is that it’s also low in sugar, which can help you reduce inflammation and boost metabolism.
One of the main criticisms of eating keto foods is that it’s not sustainable in the long term. You might see quick results because of the drastic diet change, but eventually, you will hit a plateau and your progress may slow down.
What’s worse is that if you quit keto and jump right back into gorging on carbs, you might gain some weight back. However, there are also other risks associated with the diet. These include:
Following a keto diet can be tough, especially if you’re starting it without any guidance. Though it has some benefits, the bottom line is that you might only experience them if you eat the right keto foods. Another thing to keep in mind is that by drastically reducing your carb and protein intake, you might be depriving yourself of some essential nutrients that your body needs to function at its optimal level.
That said, if you have type 2 diabetes, this diet may help you manage it because reducing carb intake is known to improve your blood sugar levels. If you still want to try the keto diet, be sure to eat keto foods that are low in saturated fats, such as olive oil, avocados, poultry, and seafood.
According to the U.S. News and World Report ranking, the best and healthiest diet is the Mediterranean diet.
Not only can it encourage weight loss, improve heart health, and manage diabetes, but it’s also not a restrictive diet, which means it can be more sustainable in the long run. Some foods you can eat on the diet include whole-wheat pasta, buckwheat pancakes, almonds, grilled salmon, and Greek yogurt.
Ultimately, the best way to take care of your health is by following a sustainable diet and getting sufficient rest every night.
Sleep and weight loss are inextricably linked; more sleep helps you lose weight and less sleep causes you to gain weight. But whether your goal is to lose weight or not, sleep is as essential to your well-being as eating the right foods and exercising, so it’s important to ensure that you have the most comfortable mattress that will give you the best night’s rest.